a : one who is open-minded or not strict in the observance of orthodox, traditional, or established forms or waysb capitalized : a member or supporter of a liberal political partyc : an advocate or adherent of liberalism especially in individual rightsThe above comes from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary online. And I'm thinking this is me. In fact, I know I'm liberal, but I'm beginning to think I'm very liberal. Conversations I have with friends and family leave me thinking that I'm not just a little off center....but more that I'm so far away from the center that I don't even see it any more!
Open-minded? Absolutely. Not strict in the observance of established ways. Totally. In many cases, I view "established ways" as code for "resistant to change". In a recent conversation with an old college friend, he was bemoaning the fact that his students (he is a college professor) just did not write very well. Sure, they used complex sentences, decent grammar, well thought out reasoning. But on occasion, they just seemed too casual. In fact, hold on to your hats here, a few of them had even used some text speak in a homework assignment. I know. Horrors. These surely are the end times!
He was surprised when I basically said...."so what?" If they are writing well reasoned papers with complex writing strategies, what's the harm in including some of the casual words that are part of our every day communication? Should school work be devoid of what is real in our lives? Perhaps that kind of thinking is why many kids think of school as irrelevant or "old fashioned" or many of the other complaints kids have about the institution. I'm a teacher. I'm all for standards. But standards can change with the times.
My friend felt differently.
And yes, I support the liberal party. In truth, my real problem with politics is that the liberal party is just way too conservative! I voted for Obama. And I hear pundits talk about how he has to move to the center to get re-elected. Move to the center? He was smack dab in the center to begin with! How about moving toward some actual, liberal thinking??? For example, it was back in 1972 that the ERA passed both houses of Congress. But has it been ratified yet? Nope. For some strange reason, our country is still threatened by the idea of women being equal! And don't get me started on the rights of gay and lesbian folks to get married. But does the so-called "liberal" party stick up for those kinds of issues? No way.
And in a recent chat with a good friend, I was expressing my dismay that a gentleman in our state was recently sentenced to death for a crime. Yes, the crime he committed was awful. But I simply don't support the idea of killing someone. I mean, that was his crime. He killed someone. And if we view killing as so terrible, then why do we want to do it even more? Plus I know all the political arguments - it costs more to execute a prisoner than the have him spend life in prison. States with the death penalty traditionally have higher rates of capital crimes than those that don't...so clearly it isn't a deterrent. And the US is pretty much the only developed nation that still chooses to kill its citizens when they just don't like what they do.
My friend was horrified. He could I want this terrible person to live??? At some point, I don't even know how to explain myself in the face of that.
And what about those individual rights? Well, the current uproar about TSA and the full body scanners (sometimes referred to as the "porno scanners") and the National Opt-Out Day that may or may not happen tomorrow is the perfect example. No way would I want to be scanned by one of those things. And not because I don't want someone seeing me naked. Go ahead and look, I don't care. But every reputable scientist who has spoken out on the issue says the radiation levels are dangerous. That's good enough for me. And yes, I do care of they see my wife and/or kids naked. And like the guy we've all come to know....I just don't really want those folks touching my junk. Or my wife's private parts. Or my kids. Millions of people fly all over the world every day without going through those screeners or getting groped. And the incidents of disaster are extremely rare. And there is no proof...none at all...that these types of scanners and fondling would have prevented any of the few that have taken place.
They say we NEED these things to protect us from shoe bombers and underwear bombers. But wait a minute. We stopped both those guys. Without any of this nonsense. So why do we suddenly need it now?
And why is it necessary that we give up our basic rights of privacy just so the guys who see terrorists around every corner can scan us and feel us and probe our luggage and make us strip off our shoes and belts and dump everything in our pockets? Is it really necessary? Has anyone ever tried to take down a jumbo jet with a car key? And if not, why do they need to see mine?
Yeah, I'm a liberal. I wear it proudly. But I fear my liberalism is creating a pretty large gap between me and most everyone I know. And sometimes that makes me sad.